September 22, 2023
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA

Alex Ovechkin gives first comments on Capitals hiring of Spencer Carbery: ‘We have a great relationship. I was happy with this appointment.’

Alex Ovechkin gives first comments on Capitals hiring of Spencer Carbery: ‘We have a great relationship. I was happy with this appointment.’

The Washington Capitals announced the hire of Spencer Carbery as the franchise’s 20th head coach in late May. The decision put an end to a month and a half long search after the team decided to mutually part ways with Peter Laviolette post the Caps missing the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

Carbery, who has just two years of experience in the NHL as an assistant coach, will now have the responsibility of guiding a team chock-full of veterans led by 37-year-old, legendary captain Alex Ovechkin. While Ovechkin was in Moscow for a promotional event on Friday, Sport-Express’ Mikhail Zislis asked him to give his take on the team appointing a rookie head coach who is just four years older than him.

“We already knew him, we have a great relationship,” Ovechkin said and as translated via Google Translate. “I was happy with this appointment, because he knows me, many of the guys in the club who had previously played in Hershey. I don’t think there should be any problems.

“The coaching staff has changed by 90 percent. The power play will become different, maybe the penalty kill, and the system as a whole, too. The first month of training camp will be very important.”

The pair’s prior relationship also came up when Carbery was asked a similar question on Elliot In The Morning in early June, where Carbery described his first conversation with the Great Eight after news of the hiring came out.

“It was great,” Carbery said then. “I know him, obviously have a relationship going back a few years from being around camps. It was a good conversation. He’s back home. He sorta laid out his plans for the offseason, and what sticks out right away is that he’s a competitor and he wants to win.

“When we talk, everything is team-centric. You’d think a lot of the conversation leads to goals and achieving something really, really special and it’s the opposite. It leans towards team stuff and how we’re going to win. That’s a pretty special quality about Alex and what makes him such a great leader and such a great individual athlete.”

Ovechkin is ramping up his offseason training in preparation for his return to DC for Caps preseason. Ovi’s regular trainer Pavel Burlachenko is in Russia with him and has Ovechkin getting in off-ice sweat sessions with former Cap Dmitrij Jaskin and Jaskin’s KHL teammates Damir Zhafyarov and Slava Voynov.

Ovechkin has also gotten into a few casual on-ice games this summer. He has featured in Dynamo Moscow’s alumni tournament, Danis Zaripov’s KHL farewell game, and played with his son Sergei on the “Hockey Legends” team on the final day of the Ovechkin Cup.

“The preparation is going the way it should go,” Ovechkin told Zislis. “Two more months before the start of the [NHL]. I always start the training camp not at one hundred percent, but somewhere around 60 [percent], so that later I can get in shape at camp and during the season.”

While the Caps posted their worst full, 82-game season in 16 years last year, Ovechkin remains confident in his team, primarily because he believes the Caps will have a much healthier roster to start the year.

“Last season we were knocked down by injuries,” Ovechkin said. “Both [Nicklas] Backstrom and Tom Wilson returned only in the middle of the season. It was hard after their return. It takes time to adapt. But, now, I think everything will be fine. We will approach the season in optimal shape. The main thing is that everyone is healthy.”

Outside of that team-centered optimism, Ovechkin is also on the verge of more personal hockey history. He is just 72 goals shy of tying Wayne Gretzky for the most goals in NHL history and just 15 points shy of becoming the 16th player to ever reach the 1,500-point club.

Carbery will likely have the honor of coaching Ovechkin through both milestones. “It’s a huge responsibility for me as a head coach,” Carbery said. “It’s my job as a head coach to put him in situations where he can be successful.”

Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB

This content was originally published here.

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